In 2018, people around the world spent $72.7 billion U.S. dollars on antiperspirant and deodorant. Keeping sweat and odor at bay is a daily chore for most Americans, yet most people don’t have a clear understanding of what makes us sweat and what makes us smell.
Our bodies are covered with sweat glands. Sweating is an essential function that helps us cool down when our bodies heat up. There are two main kinds of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine.
As our bodies heat up, eccrine glands release sweat all over our bodies that cool us down. The type of sweat produced by eccrine glands is usually odorless. However, certain foods and drinks you’ve consumed, as well as certain kinds of medication, can cause eccrine sweat to smell.
The apocrine glands create the sweat in the “smelly” parts of our bodies like the armpits, groin areas, breast and feet. Apocrine glands work primarily under stress and this fluid begins to develop an odor when it comes into contact with bacteria on your skin. Apocrine glands don’t start working until puberty, which is why that’s usually the time we start to notice body odor.
Our bodies are designed to keep our temperature in a certain range so sweating is perfectly normal. It’s typically odorless, until the bacteria on your skin starts breaking it down. The sweat itself doesn’t usually have a smell. Body odor is actually caused by the bacteria that live in sweaty areas of your body. These bacteria thrive in moist environments, like your armpits. When you sweat, bacteria breaks down certain proteins in the sweat, turning it into acids. So, technically it’s not the bacteria that stink, but the by-product from the bacteria breaking down the sweat.
While this is normal, some people sweat more than usual. This is a condition known as hyperhidrosis. People with hyperhidrosis sweat excessively, especially from their hands, feet, and armpits. These people often try many treatment options with little to no success. If you’ve used multiple kinds of deodorants or antiperspirants and nothing helps to reduce your underarm odor, you should consider talking to a professional. You may have something different going on that needs addressing, or you just may need a stronger treatment to get body odor under control. There are a few different treatment options available:
- Prescription antiperspirants/deodorants are stronger than what you can find at any store or on the internet.
- Antibiotics, topical or oral, are used to help reduce bacteria on the skin.
- Botox has been used for many years to block the impulses that tell the sweat glands to produce sweat.
All of these treatments are temporary, however there is a new FDA approved treatment to permanently stop sweating under the arms.
- MiraDry is a revolutionary non-surgical treatment that permanently reduces underarm sweat, odor, and hair – in about an hour. Patients experience up to an 80% reduction in sweat and odor in as little as one treatment. The results are clinically proven and they are permanent. MiraDry uses thermal energy to create heat in the area where sweat, odor, and hair glands reside and safely destroys them. Following the procedure, the underarm area can be tender and swollen for a few days. This treatment is one of the fastest growing treatments in the cosmetic industry because sweat and odor are unpleasant and the results of this treatment are amazing. Technology allowing for the treatment of the hands and feet is in development and hopefully will be available to the public in the next few years.
If you sweat or have odor under the arms that you’d like to stop, schedule a free consultation at The Skin Care Center at Gulf Coast Plastic Surgery to speak with one of our miraDry experts.